Review: Mobius Final Fantasy23 Aug 2016 2
Review: Mobius Final Fantasy
Released 10 Aug 2016
I'll admit, a fair amount of Japanese games/anime have a tendency to befuddle me when it comes to their writing (especially dialogue). I’m often left wondering whether some of the nuance is lost in translation from Japanese to English, or if it’s just genuinely bad, or if I need a degree in 'Pretentious Nonsense' to truly appreciate it. [Try watching Gundam Wing in English *shudders* -ED] This isn't always the case with Mobius Final Fantasy, but it does unfortunately fall under this umbrella.
Your hero awakens on the world of Palamecia with a case of amnesia and voice called Vox talking in his head. You discover that you and the few people who arrived with you (who also have amnesia) are all blanks.
As to what blanks are hasn’t been revealed as of yet, though apparently they fight and guard temples to fill a hole in their hearts/souls. Before long you run across a floating Pikmin thing called a moogle who, as well as providing that adorable yet chirpy side-kick that a lot of Japanese games feel the need to have, tells you that you are the warrior of light foretold of in some prophecy and it is your destiny to save to world.
It's worth noting that, with this being a JRPG, I've not completed the whole story. After about five hours though I’m hard pressed to care about anything or anyone in the game. It feels like the guys and gals at Square Enix couldn’t decide whether to give the protagonist a character or leave him as a silent protagonist for you to project yourself upon. Instead he falls somewhere in between where he does indeed speak but says very little of note. This problem also extends to the rest of the cast in that no one is given any proper characterisation and damn near every cutscene and dialogue bit goes as follows:
Other Character: Hey. Abrupt statement pertaining in some way to the plot.
Protagonist: Hey. Question prompting explanation and exposition?
Other Character: Expositional answer.
Protagonist: Further questioning.
Other Character: Additional answer that leaves out key details.
[Scene suddenly ends]
It’s a real shame though as the Mobius fields a fairly talented cast of voice actors such as Bryce Papenbrook (Rin: Blue Exorcist anime, Tiz Arrior: Bravely Default), Sarah Williams (Jinx: League of Legends, Sayaka Miki: Madoka Magika anime) and Keith Silverstein (Garrus Vakarian: Mass Effect Trilogy) but the bad dialogue and what appears to be sub par voice direction makes everyone sound flat and uninterested. Papenbrook’s role as the Protagonist suffers the worst as for whatever reason all of his lines are muttered regardless of the context or situation.
But enough with the negatives - Mobius’s gameplay is where this really shines. At the start it can feel like the UI is cluttered, full of numbers, stats and symbols all yelling over each other in an attempt to gain your attention. The core gameplay loop is introduced in a tutorial that is a bit long for a fairly simple RPG. But once you’re given room to breathe and explore everything falls into place nicely. You traverse an overworld map with branching paths and each destination has you battling enemies. Some destinations will reward you with a chest for clearing them out the first time which can contain things such as cards or currency. Combat is turn based and requires you to tap the screen for each attack. Each attack fills your character’s orb metre a bit and when you have enough you can use one of your special attacks that comes in the form of cards.
Cards come in a variety of types like wind, fire, earth etc... and have varying degrees of effectiveness depending on the enemy. I’m still not entirely sure on each type's optimal match up as I have beaten whole groups of water enemies numerous times using fire attacks, but that could be a balance issue. Almost all cards represent an actual in-game enemy/NPC and killing them can also sometimes net you cards. Using cards awards them XP and subsequently levels which then in turn makes your special attacks more powerful. The trade off though is that more powerful cards and attacks require more orbs. The types of orbs you gain depends on your job (character class) and your element gauge metre in the bottom left. For instance if your gauge is half red, a quarter blue and a quarter yellow then you have a fifty percent chance on each attack to gain a fire orb and a twenty five percent chance for either water or earth. You can tip the scales in a certain way however by shielding yourself using your orbs. So if you’re up against a fire enemy and keep getting fire and earth orbs but not much water you can use those up to help shield yourself against those kind of attacks and it will also fill up the gauge with more of the remaining colour. The more orbs you use when shielding the more turns the shield lasts. All jobs also gain magical orbs randomly during combat which can be used for things like healing spells and such.
Bosses and sub-bosses often have a shield metre below their health bar which you have to whittle down if you want to do any serious damage. When their shield is broken you have a turn to lay as much hurt on them as you can before the shields returns. These enemies are also often the rarer cards which have higher level caps than their more common counterparts. Besides using them in combat you can also combine or “fusion” cards as the game calls it to up their levels with there being certain cards whose express purpose if to be fusioned with others. When you fusion cards it also nets you skill seeds which can be used to upgrade your character’s jobs instead of traditional RPG stat boosting. You can switch jobs at any point in time, though when you do so you’ll most likely have to swap around the cards you have assigned because if you switch from an Onion Knight to a Mage for instance you can no longer gain earth orbs in battle making any cards that rely on them useless. Once you get your head wrapped around it the system proves to be one of those that's easy to use, but hard to master. I’ve had numerous close calls and boss fights that I've won by the skin of my teeth. Its makes up for the game's lack of any kind of party system which was disappointing.
Aside from the lacklustre story, Mobius’s other problem is the numerous currencies going on in the game. You have tokens for getting cards, friend tokens whose purpose I still don't know, skill seeds for job upgrades, XP for card upgrades and on and on. I'm sure there are even a couple I probably haven’t found yet. One of the currencies, crystals, is used for unlocking new jobs or advanced jobs and they are the only currency that you can buy for real money. That does bring on the inevitable grind that comes with free to play models later as crystals are rather rare but it’s far less egregious than a lot of other FTP games. It also comes packaged with things like daily quests and stamina that limit the amount of fights you can get into but once again neither of them are really infuriating in anyway.
In the looks department Mobius is definitely easy on the eyes with nice backgrounds, character models and lighting effects all round. Despite being technically beautiful Mobius ran like a dream on my little HUDL 2. Personally I’m not too keen on the actual art direction for a lot of the characters as I feel they suffer from that dual combo of being over designed yet forgettable that plagued Final Fantasy XIII. The music is honestly one of the oddest parts of the game for me as I’ve had it switch between what sounds like 'generic' Final Fantasy music to hard rock to……...I wanna say EDM? It’s all nice to listen to, regardless.
Mobius Final Fantasy is a great game especially if you’ve got a hankering for some JRPG action. I was disappointed by story and dialogue but nowhere near enough for it to really ruin the experience for me and it very much scratches the “one more fight” itch that these kinds of games give me.